By Ernie Clark of the Bangor Daily News - Wrestling already has been a big part of Adam Gudroeís life. During his high school days, he was a three-time individual state champion at Dexter Regional High School ó and as a freshman he lost in overtime in the championship final. He wrestled for his father, longtime Dexter coach Dave Gudroe, a three-time state champion in his own right during the 1970s.
More recently Adam Gudroe has coached wrestling at the middle school level in Dexter, developing young grapplers to prepare them to move on to the high school ranks.
Now Gudroe has moved onto the varsity ranks himself, as a coach. The 25-year-old Garland resident has taken over as head coach at Dexter, replacing his father who stepped down after last season.
"I always thought I wanted the opportunity to coach once my father got done," said Gudroe, a 1999 Dexter graduate. "I didnít want him to get out of coaching as early as he did, but now that I have the chance Iím looking forward to it."
Gudroe already has coached many of the wrestlers on the current Dexter roster, either in middle school or when helping his dad at the high school.
"Each age level has its challenges," said Gudroe. "but having helped out at the high school for so long, there isnít that much difference. In high school the wrestling techniques are so much more advanced than at the middle school, and with weight management thereís a little more to deal with in high school, although thereís not so much now with the system they have in place."
Gudroe inherits a fairly veteran team from the 2006 squad that placed fourth at the Class C state championship meet, as just two seniors graduated.
Leading the returnees is 112-pound senior Jeremiah Barkac, a three-time state champion who is unbeaten in three years of competition against in-state opponents, including 34-0 last winter.
"Jeremiah is the best wrestler Iíve seen in the state of Maine," said Gudroe. "By far heís the most disciplined wrestler, and he does the work during the offseason, wrestling out-of-state and doing what he needs to do to become better."
Among others returning to the team this winter are Brian OíConnor, Ronald Harvey, Jacob Martin, Ryan Newcomb and Josh Harvey, all of whom turned in top-four performances at the states last February.
Gudroe also has high hopes for new 103-pound wrestler Mike OíConnor ó Brianís twin brother ó as well as senior Mark Redmond in the 285-pound (formerly 275-pound) weight class.
"Taking over this year, I couldnít ask for a better group of guys to start with," said Gudroe, whose team will compete next on Wednesday at Bucksport against Mount Desert Island, Ellsworth and the host Golden Bucks.
Gudroe is optimistic about his teamís chances based on early season results, but knows there is much more work to do.
"Weíre almost there," he said. "But Iíve told them that every day theyíve got to push it 110 percent this year if they want to get to where they want to be."
The top four teams from the 2006 Class C wrestling state championships squared off at Dexter on Saturday, with the Tigers hosting Lisbon, Dirigo of Dixfield and Foxcroft Academy.
Dirigo, second to Lisbon at the states last year, won all three of its dual matches, but most of the teams didnít have their full complement of wrestlers, so the results werenít necessarily a true indication of how the teams might fare when the wrestling world gathers at the Augusta Civic Center on Feb. 10 for the 2007 state meet.
What emerged was a sense that in Class C, at least, the states will be a most competitive event.
"This meet set the tone for all the teams right from the start," said Gudroe. "Everyone there was saying how tough it was going to be this year, because all of the teams have a lot of kids coming back from last year." "It gives us an idea of where we are now, and what we need to do to prepare for when we see those teams again," added Foxcroft coach Luis Ayala.
Foxcroft, the three-time defending Eastern C champion and third at last yearís state meet, graduated five starters, including state champions Josh Pelletier and James McPhee.
But the Ponies do return two-time state champion Jerod Rideout, a junior who will compete at 145 pounds, and senior Colby Johnson, a reigning Eastern Maine champion and a two-time state runnerup. Three other wrestlers who placed fourth at the states, Bud McIntosh, Kaleb Mann and Bill Macomber, also are back, as are fellow veterans Ray Benson and Ethan Whittemore.
Foxcroft is seeking to overcome a pair of key injuries. Chris Steinke, fourth in the state at 130 pounds last year, is out for the season with a shoulder injury, while Nick Lancisi, an Eastern Maine champion in 2006, is sidelined with a rotator cuff injury.
The Ponies will benefit from the addition of a pair of wrestlers competing on the mat for the first time since their middle-school days, Jon Geiger at 215 and Josh Boone at 285.
This is a younger Foxcroft team than recent editions, with just three seniors among its 14 starters. Ayala is hoping a strong junior class, including eight starters, will exhibit steady improvement, something he already has seen.
Foxcroft lost to Dirigo by some 20 points two weeks ago at the Oxford Hills Duals, but reduced that gap against the Cougars to 10 points (38-28) at the Dexter meet.
"Weíre very excited about the season," said Ayala, who mentioned Dexter and Bucksport among the Poniesí top rivals for this seasonís Eastern Maine and Penobscot Valley Conference titles. "But the depth of our team is not as strong as weíre used to. Our younger guys are going to have to step up."
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